Lauren Sheffer has been bringing her son Blake to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta for frequent visits since he was just 5 weeks old. Fortunately, the little guy and his parents have been comforted by the team caring for him, including Quanda Riles, an environmental services technician at the hospital who has adorable dance parties with the tiny patient.
Sheffer's visits to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta began when Blake, who was born prematurely, was a just newborn after she found him limp in his bassinet. His mother called 911 and he was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), a condition that causes him to have an abnormally fast heart rate. On top of his SVT diagnosis, Blake sees a hematologist and other specialists at the hospital for a blood disorder. Since October 2019, he has been to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta five times. "As a mom, it’s always hard seeing your baby suffer," Sheffer tells Romper.
While spending so much time at the hospital must be harrowing for both Blake, now 1 year old, and his family, he has developed special bonds with the staff and Sheffer says they've gone "above and beyond to make each child forget they are in the hospital."
"The team at Children’s saved my son’s life twice. I’ve never seen any hospital like Children’s — the level of dedication, service and attention is incredible," Sheffer says. "And its genuine you can feel it — it is not forced."
Blake is also lucky to have found Riles, his favorite environmental services technician who could also be called his favorite dance partner. Earlier this month, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta shared a sweet video of a dance party they recently had on Instagram. "Dancing with the Stars, Children’s style. A perfect 10 for Blake and his favorite tech, Quanda," the hospital captioned the video.
Sheffer tells Romper that Blake is a "very social baby" who has struggled with being confined in the hospital. And with COVID-19 visitor restrictions in place, he could only have his mom there with him. "I could tell our sweet boy was getting depressed and feeling lonely," Sheffer says.
But all that changed with his dance parties. "When Blake met Quanda, his entire demeanor changed," Sheffer tells Romper. "He began looking for her all day hoping she would come see him. She took extra care of Blake and tried to cheer him up with these dance parties and they truly changed Blake's day right around!"
A 2010 study found that babies are naturally predisposed to enjoy dance and music, as Live Science reported, so the look of joy and concentration on Blake's face as Riles coaxes him to dance should not come as a surprise.
And of course, the dance parties are fun for Riles, too. "My job is to make patients feel comfortable and supported when they are in the hospital," Riles tells Romper. "Our dance parties always put a smile on Blake’s face... Every time I walked in the room he would light up because he knew we would dance together."